Further East to Plitvice Lakes National Park,Croatia

Published: May 10th 2013
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There is nothing like breakfast of cereal,scrambled eggs and toast on the terrace, in the sun.And that is what we had this morning before we packed up and headed for 3 nights to Central Croatia and Plitvice Lakes National Park.

But first there is the all important check on Googles maps as to where our next accommodation is and what the terrain around it looks like to help identify it in case the GPS can't recognise the actual address as has happened several times already.Mind you Vicky and on one occasion Serena has found the location much quicker than we used to achieve on the BBA V1 using Google maps and writing down the instructions to decipher when we got near our destination.

We have found that almost all of our accommodations have had a good internet connection which is significantly different to 4 years ago and at times we really wonder how we managed the logistics of booking the accommodations using the various hotel consolidator websites without such a good internet connection.

However,here in the camp the signal is weak where our mobile home is and so we headed down to the internet point by the office and balanced the laptop on a rubbish bin while we did what we had to.Sometimes you just have to use what you have around you and improvise where necessary!

With a good idea of where we are going we were on the road and driving through 'the Croatian Riviera' being several seaside towns all linked as we approached the outskirts of Rijeka,an industrial city.The whole look of these seaside towns are in direct contrast to those on the western coast of the Istrian Peninsula.They still didn't have a sandy beach and where we got close to the water, as the road rose and fell along the hillside,we could see the best the sun worshippers had to sun bath on was a concrete slab with a drop off to the sea.Still the water was clear and inviting to swim in, so you have to make best of what works in the absence of a sandy beach.

As we travelled along the coast we had the usual road diversion without a clearly defined alternative.This always throws Vicky, while we search for a road that will take us back on track and she usually suggests turns that would take us up 'impossibly narrow' roads which we ignore.

The E65 was an excellent road,in great condition, to be on and diverted us around the back of Rijeka,which from the highway, looked like it had a disorganised roading system through the city.A couple of tunnels later we were clear of the city and on a piece of road that we recalled from our trip through Croatia in 2009.We had admired this piece of engineering from below the road and hadn't had the opportunity to drive over it as the road we took travelled away from it but this time we were in luck.

The road is built out into mid air to enable traffic to make turns to be able to drop down and join another road 100 odd metres below.Without the roadway being built in this fashion you would never be able to achieve the reduction in height so quickly.As you drive onto the part that is out in mid air you instinctivly slow down for fear of driving over the edge as the turn seems to go on forever.

Gradually the road heads down to sea level and we left the picturesque town of Bakar behind and from hereon it was exclusively coastline for the next 40 odd kilometres.

The weather was in contrast to our drive along this coastline in 2009 when it was grey and overcast with a strong wind.But today the sun was shining brightly with a warm temperature in the high 20's necessitating a change in the a/c temperature in the car to keep it more comfortable travelling.

We took a stop at Crikavenica and thought we would give Plodines supermarket a try for the first time for our dinner purchases for the next couple of nights.However, we only got as far as the front before the smell of rotten meat put us off and we crossed the bridge over a small stream to Konzum where the aroma when we entered was more welcoming.!

We enjoy our shopping expeditions mixing with the locals and making ourselves understood at the bakery or deli counters and also trying to figure out what exactly some of the tins or packets that we think we might try actually are !

We had to take shelter from the early afternoon sun when we stopped at Novi Vinodolski for our boot lunch as the temperature was now topping 30C.

The authorities who maintain the road on the coast must have had a good sum of money to spend before summer as there were roadworks every couple of kilometres controlled by lights as only one lane was available to pass through.We did think of following the 'locals' a couple of times when they passed us when we w ere stopped for a red light while they sped up to catch up with the last car that passed through.We thought better of it and of course they may have only been going part way through the controlled area to get to their home.

The coast road is very enjoyable to drive with changing scenes around every corner from the rugged,stony hillside to our left to the small settlements perched on promontories to the right as well as the sand hills of the island of Krk across the water also to our right.

Just after we crossed the 45th parallel for the second time on the BBA V2 at Senj we headed into the hills and began a steady climb with several hairpins that eventually got us to a summit of around 700 metres above sea level and a pass that took us from the dry,stony coastal scenery to lush green cultivated land and hillside of bush and trees of what seemed to be a plateau of the interior.

The area we passed through included a couple of small towns but the population was sparse in comparison to the upper part of the coast we had been in up until lunchtime.

The traffic volume was very low in contrast to the coast road although it did pick up noticeably with more trucks once we got as far as SS1 on which there was a border crossing into Bosnia which we will take once we have had our 3 nights at the Lakes.

Our accommodation at Rakovica, just over two kilometres from one of the two Park entries, was relatively easy to find.In fact the road which ran for 2 kilometres had only houses on it that offered accommodation for people visiting the Park.They all appeared to be like the one we had booked at #29 and had studio apartments attached to the main house or were separate units built near the owners home.

With the weather looking a bit doubtful beyond tomorrow we will make a day of it and visit the Lakes Park while there is a better chance of fine weather.

When we considered the distance we had travelled today on the atlas it looked like we had covered a lot of ground yet the drive was so enjoyable that it seemed like it had passed with ease.

Additional photos below
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23rd May 2013

Bringing back memories
Two years ago we travelled down that aerial roadway on our way to Krk. On the motorway leading to the "off ramp" we spent some considerable time in a traffic jam with outside temperatures in the low 40's and numerous cars parked up with radiators boiling. Seemed like everyone was heading for their holiday accommodation on Krk. What it must have been like before the bridge was build connecting the island to the mainland one can only wonder.

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